Three best friends from Prince George, BC are fasting for the first time this Ramadan (April-May).
Manha Akther, 9, Maryam Hakim, 10, and Fatima Khan, 7, attend Southridge Primary School. The three Muslim students discussed the new experience of fasting with CBC’s Daybreak North.
“I was very hungry because it’s the first time I’ve fasted [for] full time…fasting full days is really fun because your reward at the end is Iftar,” fifth grader Akther said of the evening time when it’s time to break the fast.
“When you put a piece of food in your mouth after a long day of fasting, it feels so good.”
Generally, children are not required by Islam to fast until they reach puberty. But the friends wanted to participate with their older friends and relatives.
Akther also likes to spend time in the mosque at night for their tarawih prayer.
“We stay up until 12 (am) and it’s really fun because you can see your friends and sometimes you can jump in and enjoy your time at the mosque,” Akther said.
Hakim said that while fasting is difficult when other students are eating during lunch and recess, the school keeps her busy and speeds up the day without food.
Hakim, who is also in fourth grade, said his favorite part of Ramadan is going to other families’ homes for parties.
“You are getting closer to Allah,” said Hakim.
Khan, who is in his second year, begins his Ramadan journey by fasting for one or two days at a time.
Iftar is her favorite part of Ramadan, even on days when she is not fasting.
“I also like Iftar…I’m fine, but I still like to eat,” Khan said.
Tips for beginners
Akther advises fasters to drink plenty of water at Suhoor, the sunrise meal that begins on the day of fasting during Ramadan.
“You’re going to be really, really thirsty and really, really hungry, but don’t eat too much of a meal because if you eat a big meal, you’ll be hungry.”
Akther said participating in Ramadan can provide perspective on the lives of those without food.
“Fasting is like we feel like people who don’t have food feel, but of course we eat because we have to,” Akther said.
Akther looks forward to Eid al-Fitr (May 1-2), the holiday that marks the end of Ramadan.